Here in Minnesota, we don't have primaries, but party caucuses. On a winter's night, thousands of Minnesotans go to schools and community centers to talk about issues and vote on candidates.
In 2008, I went to my GOP caucus and encountered a group of energetic young folks who were pumped.
I had come face to face with the Ron Paul revolution.
Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican congressman, lit a match with his 2008 campaign for President. Even though he didn't receive the nomination, he did set many a hearts a twitter, including these young people.
The people at my table were enthusiastic and excited to be there. I remember seeing one young man and his wife pour over the state platform, looking with surprise at all the social conservative planks. They couple and another young man were at the ready with resolutions to change the platform. I had to leave early for a dinner date, but I was impressed at the passion of these folks even if I disagreed with them.
Over time I have heard and seen stories of followers of Ron Paul who have come in and basically took over local party operations. They relish their role and are active in shaping the party in their image.
What is interesting in these followers is just how much this is a passion of the heart for them. They are just filled with excitement and hope. They feel that nothing can stop them. When state parties or local officials in the GOP try to shut the Paulites out, they just come back stronger.
Passion is something that is important in politics. In some ways, passion in politics is like falling in love. Ron Paul Republicans are in love, with Ron Paul's brand of libertarianism and want to change things.
I contrast this with the breed of Republican that has many names such as Liberal Republican, Moderate Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans or Progressive Republicans. When I encounter these people, I don't see people in love. At times they seem lethargic, complaining that their true love has left them, but doing nothing to reach out to that lost love and win them back. Instead, they think about the good old days and wish that maybe someday, their old love will come back.
Most of my fellow moderates are devoid of any love for their heritage. They don't love their party enough to want to change it from its self-destructive ways.
I think what moderates in the GOP miss is that politics is not simply a logical game. It also involves the passions, the heart. That's what keeps you in the game when the going gets tough.
I remember talking to a former moderate Republican who was not crazy about the partisan atmosphere in a moderate Republican group. I found this a little strange since this was a Republican group and well, they supported Republicans.
Moderate Republicans need to learn to fall in love again with the GOP. Not the present party, but it's great past. It needs to fall in love with those moderate heroes who blazed a path for us. And we need to take that passion and infuse into making the party a more hospitable place for moderate conservatives again.
A few days ago, someone asked why I stayed in the GOP. It took me a while to think of an answer, but I think I've found one. It's because I love being a Republican.
Yeah, I know that in its current state the party sucks, but I am in love with many of the principles that made the party great. And I am in love enough to want to change the party and it make a viable party once again.
There has been a lot of talk about the trying to "moderate" the GOP. But it will not happen unless a lot of passionate people are willing to take party. Lukewarm people need not apply.